Becki Melvie, owner of The Abundant Kitchen which has two Minnesota locations, isn’t afraid to make things personal. In fact, she said, one of the reasons she feels her business has become successful is that she isn’t shy about putting a name to the face behind the brand, something that big box and online retailers don’t do.
“You are buying a little bit of Becki when you come to The Abundant Kitchen,” she said.
And after taking an unconventional path into the independent gourmet housewares industry, she allows her passion and personality to shine through in everything she does.
After spending years working in the trucking industry and then as a retail sales associate, Melvie realized it was time to step back and reflect on her dreams and goals. A foodie, home cook and avid entertainer, Melvie began figuring out how to share her talents with others in a way that also worked for her. She started up her own food blog and taught cooking classes at the local co-op. Soon, she realized this was the path she was inspired to be on, so she did what anyone would do — she packed up her family, moved them to Ireland and enrolled in an intensive and immersive culinary program.
“A quick Google search revealed all the schools that I could potentially go to, but they were all multi-year programs. There was a cooking school in Ireland called Ballymaloe Cookery School and it was a 12-week program. At the end, I would have a chef’s certificate,” she said.
After three months, Melvie returned home a newly minted chef. But, she was still uncertain about how she would go about sharing her passion for food with her community as well as be able to balance her family life, especially with two young sons.
“When I came back, I knew I would have to get a job, but I didn’t know where to start,” she said. “I interviewed at some restaurants and that just wasn’t for me, so I ended up taking a job at Whole Foods,” she said.
While the experience cooking and catering helped her skill set bloom, she realized that she wanted to do something more with her talents. She decided to begin looking into owning her own business, which would allow her the chance to create her own course.
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart, I’ve always had that in me. So, as I was getting some experience in the industry, I was formulating my own business plan and from that came The Abundant Kitchen,” she said, opening her first location in Buffalo, MN in 2017.
While sharing her love of food and cooking techniques is top-of-mind to Melvie, she realized quickly that the store needed to have points of differentiation. In order to flourish, she would have to tap into some of the skills she learned long before she flew to Ireland.
“I use a lot of the sales techniques I learned while I was a store associate in my store right now. It was one of those things where I didn’t know exactly how this was going to serve me, but I learned a lot about customer service,” she said.
Her logistics and sales background combined with her heightened culinary experience has served her well as an independent housewares store owner. Not only does she know and test every product that comes into the store, but she encourages communication from her customers about those goods, too.
“We only carry things that we believe in, but we listen to the feedback of our customers. If we find out that something we carry hasn’t worked the best or isn’t filling a need, we can re-evaluate it quickly and stop carrying it if we need to,” she said.
Read the rest of Melvie’s story in the January/February 2020 edition of GOURMET INSIDER.